Monthly Archives: March 2013

Offended or Overjoyed?

It was a legal hearing to determine the charges against him.  The Roman commander had called for the Jewish ruling council to investigate Paul.  If the council was able to prove its charges against him, then the Roman commander would probably turn Paul over to them, and they would almost certainly execute him.

With his own life hanging in the balance, Paul stood to defend himself.  He started by claiming his innocence but the council refused to hear that.  What would he do?  What could he possibly say to a group that was so hostile toward him and bent on ending his life?  Here’s what he did say, “I am on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead.” (See Acts 22:30-23:10)

For the Apostle Paul, everything he believed and everything he lived for came down to the resurrection.  The resurrected Jesus Christ had appeared to Paul on that road to Damascus and everything changed.  Since Jesus was really resurrected, then the resurrection became the most important thing in life.

Not everybody agreed with Paul about the importance of the resurrection.  Paul’s Gospel made many people angry but at the same time it brought great joy to many others.  The message of a resurrected Lord Jesus who is the only Savior sent from God still has the same effects today.  Some are offended that Jesus is presented as the only way to eternal life.  Others are overjoyed.

At Easter we make it a special point to emphasize this one great truth: Jesus was raised again so we will be, too.  Jesus said that a day is coming when all will be raised, the just and the unjust.  Those who did good will rise to live and those who practiced evil will rise to be judged (John 5:28-29).  We rejoice about the resurrection because Jesus himself is our guarantee of goodness.

May God’s Spirit lift you up and fill you with the joy of his salvation,

Brother Richard Foster

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Podcast: You Cannot Hide Real Faith

Podcast: You Cannot Hide Real Faith

What does saving faith move us to do?
Dr. Richard Foster explains through Genesis 6:9-22.

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The Last Word

Jesus stood before Pilate.  A humble Jewish carpenter who had become an itinerant preacher was at the mercy of the powerful Roman governor.  Jesus stood bound by the chains of disgrace and Pilate stood adorned in the robes of honor.  The preacher was in submission and the statesman was in control—so it seemed.

Jesus had made some powerful enemies among the religious leaders in the city.  Pilate had forged some powerful connections in the ranks of the ruling elite.  Jesus apparently represented nothing more than a small spiritual movement confined to a relatively limited region, a movement that was embraced by just a handful of followers.  Pilate represented the mighty Empire that ruled much of the civilized world.

A lowly preacher was delivered into the hands of a powerful government official.  History thrust these two men against each other, but their conflict appeared to be one-sided.  As events unfolded that busy day in Jerusalem, anyone watching would have given the victory to Pilate and his Empire.  Before the day was done, Jesus had been brutally executed and Pilate still occupied his seat of authority.

Despite his honored status and impressive authority, despite the magnificence of his culture with all its wise laws and brilliant architecture and military might, Pilate and his Roman Empire would fade from its exalted place, left behind by the unstoppable advances of history.  On that Friday morning he seemed to be in command, but his power was not the last word.

Despite his public shame, his painful wounds, his broken body, his spilled blood, and the heavy stone that sealed his corpse in a tomb, Jesus would rise up and give birth to a spiritual movement that would challenge the powers and authorities of this world for two millennia, a movement that continues to challenge the powers and authorities of this world today.  On that Friday morning he seemed to be defeated, but his crucifixion was not the last word.

The turning point was Jesus’ resurrection.  Jesus, it turns out, was not simply a lowly preacher who left behind the life of a carpenter in Nazareth.  Jesus was, and is, the Leader of God’s Kingdom.  His resurrection firmly establishes his vital place in time and eternity.  All kingdoms and empires, all powers and authorities, every leader and every ruler, will not only step aside, but they will bend the knee and they will confess the supremacy of the One Lord sent by God: Jesus Christ the resurrected Savior.

Jesus’ resurrection makes everything clear.  Now we know which kingdom will finally be victorious.  Now we know which kingdom to support and to serve.  Now we know, despite any appearances in the meantime, that citizens of God’s Kingdom will share the ultimate victory for all of eternity.  Now we know that our participation in Christ’s Kingdom, no matter what the cost, is not in vain.

Because of Jesus’ resurrection, we should never lose heart, despite the apparent victories of the powers and authorities in this world.  Because of Jesus’ resurrection we know that all such victories are temporary, fleeting shadows in this passing age.  Because of Jesus’ resurrection we should gather on every Lord’s Day and worship, but especially on Easter.

Easter reminds us that Jesus Christ is the Living Word, the Word of Truth, and the Last Word—we need not wait for another Word from God, Christ is the fullest revelation of God’s glory.  The chains that bound him and the nails that pierced him have long since crumbled.  Jesus the Crucified and Risen One is seated at the right hand of God in glory!  What could possibly keep us from praising him?

May God’s Spirit fill us with the power and the joy of Christ’s resurrection,

Brother Richard Foster, Pastor
Grace Baptist Church, Camden, AR

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The Very Words of God

In Psalm 19, we read that the Lord’s law revives the soul and his precepts make glad the heart (Psalm 19:7-8).  These phrases might sound a bit strange to our twenty-first-century ears.  How can laws and principles bring gladness to our hearts?  How can instructions and precepts revive our souls?

Before writing about the joy of the Lord’s precepts, the psalmist first marvels at the greatness of God’s creation.  The breathtaking beauty and unmistakable design of the cosmos point to a powerful and wise Maker.  Seeing the fingerprint of God creates a desire to know the mind of God.  Nature, however, is silent about God’s personal traits.  How can we see beyond the handiwork of God and hear his thoughts, know his mind?

After noting the glory of God in the sky, the psalmist turns to the perfection of God’s laws and precepts.  When the psalmist writes about the Lord’s laws and precepts, he is referring to God’s written Word: the Bible.  In the Bible we read the thoughts and plans of the Maker who called into existence the starry host and who calls them each by name.  From the Scriptures we learn how we can know this mighty Lord of heaven and earth, and how we can experience his blessing.

Most of us have owned a Bible since we were very young.  In fact, most of us have several copies of the Bible, and we can buy as many as we want.  We have grown up being taught what God has revealed about his thoughts and plans.  As a result, we might take for granted what an honor it is to have in our possession the very words of God, who manages spiral galaxies and forms subatomic particles.

What if we started out life without the Bible?  What if we lived for decades in awe of God’s greatness, seeing his handiwork daily, wondering if we could know his thoughts, wanting to find out if this magnificent God can be known?  What if we were in our thirties or forties before we heard Scripture or held a Bible in our hands?  Perhaps then we would experience the reviving of spirit and gladness of heart that the psalmist describes.

The psalmist looked at the sky and marveled at the handiwork of God.  As a result, he expressed a great appreciation for God’s Word.  Greater appreciation for the majesty of the physical world in which we live leads to a greater appreciation for the honor of knowing the thoughts and the plans of the one who made and manages the universe.  Let us never forget how blessed we are to have the very words of God.

May God’s Holy Spirit fill us with unending gratitude for his perfect Word,

Brother Richard

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Podcast: The Power Of Human Sexuality

The Power of Human SexualityRichard-pod-300

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Podcast: Why Live For God?

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